Saudi Arabia will launch three new satellites using a Ukrainian rocket by the end of this month, according to reports appearing in the press.
The satellites – Saudi Comsat 1, 2, and 3 – will be launched from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome. The Ukrainian rocket, Dnepr, had previously launched 12 satellites for Saudi Arabia, Britain, Italy, Malaysia, Germany and the United States, with 15 more planned for this year. Saudi Arabia uses the satellites for communications purposes, added the reports.
The Kingdom has three satellites so far. The third one, which was put into the orbit on December 21, 2002, was designed and fabricated by a team of Saudi scientists at the Institute of Space Research in King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology.
It provides vital data on weather conditions and oil exploration and monitors the movement of vehicles in remote regions of the Kingdom, said the reports.
The Kingdom was the second Arab country after Egypt to launch its own satellites. It has a Center for Remote Sensing and an Institute of Space Research, which provide remote sensing technology, including satellite imagery and data, for the public and private sectors.
These images and data are vital to research in areas like agriculture, geology, cartography and natural disaster studies, said the reports.
Baikonur Cosmodrome is the launch complex from where Sputnik 1, the Earth’s first artificial satellite, was launched. The rocket that carried Yuri Gagarin, the first human in orbit, was also launched from Baikonur. The name Baikonur is misleading as the actual launch complex is about 200 miles southwest of the mining town near Tyuratam in Kazakhstan.